What Job Does Your Content Do?

We as humans like to optimize the utilization of our time. That could mean catching up on news on your mobile phone while commuting or watching a game on your tablet or buying a book of short stories because you feel you don’t have much time or even taking a nap on your way back from work. It is these “jobs to be done” that cause folks to look for a solution, and when they find one, they buy it or hire its services.

This is relevant for content businesses. How is the consumption pattern of viewers/readers changing with evolving technology? Let’s take the example of television– for a large portion of Indian population this is still the first port of call, but that’s fast changing as smartphones make deeper inroads and feature phones get smarter, or even as the number of available channels swells. In a household where the TV is being shared by at least 4 other members of the family, mastering the nuances of programming is of paramount importance for a television station.

For example, news in India is consumed more by adult male audiences and it therefore might make sense for news channels to target such a viewer at a time when he has higher chances access to the TV. Because let’s face it, prime time news at 9 pm often loses out to the entertainment demands of the rest of the family. Maybe news prime time should be shifted either before or after the entertainment one.

Breakfast programming, which is a well-established genre overseas, is only picking up in India. And to my mind, this could be a good way to address a “job to be done” by helping arm people, stepping out for their workday, with all the information they could need – their choice of information could differ, but that’s why we have so many different channels.

So is the need to address the new age viewer through different delivery platforms and re-purpose the content for that. In simpler words, can a news nugget that’s 2-3 minutes long be delivered via mobile apps and social media links, every few hours?  That addresses the “job to be done” as well as ability to complete that job with as little hassle and commitment as possible. If a channel can reach out to more people more often and help them fulfill their need for a quick doze of information, I bet the effort would be worth it.

Interestingly, the entertainment industry addresses this very seamlessly, where they make short capsules of soap episodes.

So instead of channels fighting fierce battles to gain rating points, there could be a way to garner market share through co-option & co-creation. In short, look at what is the job that your content needs to do in order to enrich the viewer’s life. Because contrary to what market research tries to justify, humans are complex creatures who don’t necessarily watch a particular television channel just because they happen to be a certain age, working in a certain industry and belonging to a certain socio-economic class.

It may not be a “winner take all” scenario, but the increase in the pie size would compensate for that. For more on “jobs to be done”, go here.

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